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APTA: International conference draws attention to scarce U.S. transit security funding

Last week, more than 200 people attended an international rail security conference in Washington, D.C., that focused attention on the lack of federal funding for U.S. public transportation security.

Attendees included representatives from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Federal Transit and Railroad administrations, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Secret Service, National Transportation Safety Board, as well as various transit agencies and police departments.

Sponsored by Amtrak, the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) and Association of American Railroads, the conference included presentations by RENFE officials, who stressed the terrorist attack on their Madrid, Spain, commuter-rail system emphasizes the importance of sharing information and preventative measures.

APTA officials pointed out that rail security has always been a top priority and the U.S. public transportation industry must remain vigilant. But it will take more dollars to improve security, officials said, according to a prepared statement.

Since Sept. 11, 2001, the industry has spent more than $2 billion to improve security. However, U.S. transit agencies need more than $6 billion to complete more improvements, so APTA officials are lobbying Congress to include $2 billion for transit security in fiscal-year 2006. Congress allocated $115 million for transit security in FY2003 and FY2004, and appropriated $150 million in FY2005.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 2/23/2005